Vision to Members – Bridging the Past and Present: A New Chapter in Historical Scholarship

Vision to Members – Bridging the Past and Present: A New Chapter in Historical Scholarship

Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society

Vision to Members – Bridging the Past and Present: A New Chapter in Historical Scholarship


Dear RAHS Colleagues,

It is with great enthusiasm that I take on the role of Editor for the Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society (JRAHS). As we celebrate our storied history and look to the future, I am excited to announce an evolution in our mission — one that bridges the gap between the traditional and the contemporary, between academia and the world of professional history. I want to try to make history more user-friendly, and to that end, I hope to produce, in tandem with the Journal, a podcast/live lecture with the authors. This will be promoted through the usual social media channels and stored on our website. We also will be taking inspiration from the Victorian Historical Journal and publishing a new section on ‘Interpreting an Image’.

With the rise of professional history beyond the university walls, we see ample opportunities to embrace a wider community of researchers, writers, and practitioners. Moving to digital engagement with the Journal reflects that whether you are an independent historian, a researcher in a heritage organisation, a curator, an academic, or an archivist, your unique insights and research deserve a platform. I hope to share your experiences, discoveries, and perspectives on Australian history.

Our Vision:

The JRAHS has a longstanding tradition of showcasing the best of Australian historical scholarship. Under my editorship, we aim to focus on:

1. Diverse Perspectives: We welcome submissions that explore the full breadth of Australian history, from Indigenous to colonial histories, social and cultural studies, political narratives, and more.

2. Inclusivity: We are committed to fostering an inclusive environment where scholars, regardless of their background or career stage, can share their insights and contribute to our understanding of Australia’s past.

3. Interdisciplinary Exploration: We encourage interdisciplinary approaches to history, where diverse methodologies and perspectives converge to shed new light on historical questions.

Call for Papers:

We invite submissions of original research articles, essays, and book reviews. Submissions should:

  • Engage with Australian history (pre-colonial, colonial and post-Federation inclusive), offer fresh insights, and contribute to the ongoing scholarly conversation.
  • Be prepared according to the Journal’s guidelines, found here.

All submissions will undergo a rigorous peer-review process to ensure academic rigour and excellence.

Be a part of this exciting new era in Australian historical scholarship. Contribute your expertise, share your research, and help shape the future of our journal by sending a submission to Papers will be accepted on a rolling basis.

Dr Samuel White
Chief Editor, Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society

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JRAHS Vol 109 Pt. 2 December 2023 – Media Release

JRAHS Vol 109 Pt. 2 December 2023 – Media Release

Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society

Volume 109, Part 2, December 2023

A photograph of Memorial Rock at the Myall Creek Massacre Site on the RAHS Journal's cover. A plaque is fixed onto the rock. Laid at the rock's base are small crucifixes.

The December 2023 issue of the Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society features four research articles that explore law and politics, sport and race relations, agriculture, and diplomacy. The issue also features eight book reviews on the latest Australian history titles. As Dr Samuel White, the new Chief Editor notes, it is in many ways a transition piece: covering colonial and post-colonial Australian history, as well as marking the end of an era of stewardship. Moving forward, the JRAHS will be seeking to grow and change how the Journal engages with history, including a new ‘Interpret an Image’ part, similar to the Victorian Historical Journal.

The issue’s front cover features the Memorial Rock at the Myall Creek Massacre Memorial Site, which is where the journal begins. Jim Ritchie’s article revisits the abandoned third trial against the remaining four accused of the massacre of 28 Wirrayaraay People on 10 June 1838.

Sydney businessman, philanthropist and social advocate Mei Quong Tart is the subject of Marc Sebastian Rerceretnam’s article. It is a timely contribution, given that Quong Tart’s former home in Ashfield was honoured with a Blue Plaque in July. Rerceretnam explores how Quong Tart used popular sport to influence anti-Chinese public opinion.

Ian D. Rae’s biographical article discusses Angus Mackay’s contributions to agricultural education in late nineteenth-century New South Wales. Mackay wrote several books on bees, sugar cane, agricultural chemistry, and guides to agriculture in Australian settings, delivered public lectures, and was an instructor at the Sydney Technical College.

James Cotton’s article rounds out the issue. Cotton considers the contributions of the lesser-known individuals in the Chungking (Chongqing) Legation, whose roles in the mission to open diplomatic relations with China in 1941 have been neglected or overlooked.

This issue also marks a change in the editorial team, as Christine Yeats will be stepping down as journal editor and handing the reigns to Dr Samuel White in 2024. ‘It is an absolute honour to address you as the new editor of the JRAHS’, Samuel said. ‘I am filled with a profound sense of reverence for the journal’s esteemed legacy and an overwhelming excitement for the future’. Christine thanked Samuel for accepting the role of editor on behalf of the RAHS.

Media Enquiries:
Suzanne Holohan, General Manager, Royal Australian Historical Society.
E:, Ph: (02) 9247 8001.

RAHS members can read and download articles published in the Journal by logging into their online members’ account. Click here to log in to your member account.

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2023 Certificates of Achievement and Appreciation

2023 Certificates of Achievement and Appreciation

2023 Certificates of Achievement

RAHS Affiliated Societies are critical in promoting local and community history. The RAHS Certificates of Achievement honour the wide-ranging contributions made by their members.

Nominated by Australian Computer Museum Society

Murray Irwin

For his commitment and service since 2003. Murray has served as Membership Officer and Secretary since 2020. Through his generosity and dedication, Murray has raised significant funds by selling, collecting and recycling discarded and donated items. His attendance, advocacy, and support for the museum, its committee, and its members have inspired everyone within the Society. The Society acknowledges and appreciates Murray’s continuous and selfless contributions and dedicated service.

Nominated by Bathurst District Historical Society

Sarah Swift

For her commitment and service since 2018. In 2020, Sarah was elected to the committee and appointed Publicity Officer. She manages the Society’s social media and, as part of a sub-committee, recently upgraded the website and oversees its ongoing maintenance. Her recent publication, 75 Treasures: Celebrating 75 years of the Bathurst District Historical Society, has been well received by local historians. The Society’s members appreciate Sarah’s invaluable and worthwhile contributions.

Nominated by Berrigan and District Heritage Museum

Marnie Steer

For her commitment and service since 2003. Marnie has served as Secretary since 2005 and organises events and activities. She is involved with the recording and cataloguing of the museum collection. Her displays in the museum and support for fundraising events have always been appreciated. Marnie’s caring involvement also extends to her local community. The Museum acknowledges Marnie’s longstanding participation and enthusiasm throughout the years.

Nominated by Berrima District Historical and Family History Society

Sylvia Carless

For her commitment, enthusiasm and outstanding service to the Society and its museum since 2006. Sylvia’s tasks since 2007 have included preparing volunteer rosters, training volunteers and maintaining the museum’s grounds and gardens. As a sub-committee member, she performs counter duties and museum cleaning and assists with group bookings and functions. The Society recognises Sylvia’s significant contributions, local knowledge and cheerful manner.

John Schweers

For his commitment and contributions since 2010. John currently serves as Museum Manager, attending to the archives and museum, arranging group bookings, functions and promotions, and welcoming visitors. His many hours supporting the Society and other volunteers, instructing new members, having reliable attendance, and being able to sort out problems with a good sense of humour and patience are well received. He is passionate about passing on Berrima’s history to all visitors. John’s tireless efforts and dedication are worthy of the Society’s recognition and praise.

Nominated by Brunswick Valley Historical Society

Peter Tsicalas

For his commitment and service since 2001. Peter’s research into Greek heritage in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales has resulted in a website and two publications. Peter has also written on the history of Mullumbimby for the Society. Since 2010, he has written and compiled the Society’s newsletter and researched relevant local information. Peter has also assisted in maintaining and conserving the Society’s exhibits and park grounds and helped with the clean-up after the 2022 floods. The Society and the community recognise and appreciate Peter’s worthwhile contributions.

Susan Tsicalas

For her longstanding service since 2004. Susan currently serves as Treasurer, Secretary and Public Officer. She has been involved with the Society’s newsletter since 2010. She talks to visiting groups, answers enquiries and helps maintain exhibits. She researched the Wilsons Creek Primary School Centenary publication. She also organises the monthly meetings, designs and installs exhibitions, and was involved with the clean-up after the 2022 floods. The Society and the community recognise and appreciate Susan’s worthwhile contributions.

Nominated by City of Sydney Historical Association

Beverley Brooks

For her longstanding commitment and service since joining COSHA as a foundation member in 2000. Currently in her nineteenth year as President, Beverley has also served as Treasurer, General Secretary and Minutes Secretary. She organises the events, liaises with the presenters, maintains the website and social media, and chairs the monthly meetings. The Association acknowledges Beverley’s invaluable work and outstanding achievements. Her diligence and ethical management in these roles, and with assistance from members of its executive team, have ensured COSHA’s continuing success.

John Brooks

For his invaluable contributions over two decades with COSHA. John served as Newsletter Editor from 2007 to 2019 and as Treasurer and Membership Officer for the last four years. He continues to organise the printing and distribution of the newsletter. His commitment to members ensured they received their newsletter, their main form of interaction and communication during the lockdown restrictions of 2020–2021. John’s monitoring and management of finances and memberships are invaluable to the Association’s continuing success.

Nominated by Marrickville Heritage Society

Sue Castrique

For her commitment and service since 2018. Sue is a researcher, script editor, historian and speaker. She has volunteered for the Addison Road Community Organisation and has worked with the Addison Road Army Depot veterans. Sue’s published work has contributed to the history of Sydney and the Marrickville area. An ardent supporter of local and state libraries and archives, she has been vocal and proactive in lobbying for improved and accessible local study resources. The Society acknowledges Sue’s work as a promoter of local history.

Nominated by Parramatta and District Historical Society

Ronda Gaffey

For her commitment and service since 2014. Ronda’s contributions include guiding tours and presenting talks to members and other heritage groups. Since 2015, she worked as a Hambledon Cottage Guide and is involved with the Parramatta Female Factory Friends, serving as Secretary, Editor and Publicity Officer. Ronda has also been a Parramatta Heritage Partners Secretary since 2017. The Society recognises Ronda’s dedication to local and community history.

2023 Certificate of Appreciation

The RAHS Certificate of Appreciation honours the contribution made by RAHS volunteers.

Jessica Buckton

For her contribution to the RAHS website and for supporting RAHS operational activities. Jessica initially joined the RAHS as a Macquarie University intern. She worked with RAHS staff and Councillors to deliver the website Competition, Community and Country: Agricultural Shows in NSW, which contains resources that highlight the social, cultural and educational significance of agricultural shows in NSW. Jessica then became a volunteer and has supported online events, contributed content for Women’s History Month and continues to develop online resources.

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Nominations for the 2023 Certificates of Achievement

Nominations for the 2023 Certificates of Achievement

Nominations are now open for the 2023 RAHS Certificates of Achievement

altRAHS Affiliated Societies are crucial in promoting local and community history throughout New South Wales. Has one of your members made an outstanding contribution to your historical society? Why not consider nominating them for the Certificate of Achievement award?

The Certificates of Achievement recognise members of societies whose contribution is significant and noteworthy. In 2022, we awarded thirteen Certificates of Achievement, which recognised contributions in publications; research; organising events; managing archival and museum collections; managing finances; and coordinating online initiatives.

You can read about past recipients on the 2023 RAHS Conference website.

This year the Certificates will be presented at the 2023 RAHS Conference in Wagga Wagga, our first face-to-face Conference since 2019. Award recipients will also be published in the December 2023 edition of History magazine.

All nominations must be in writing and show one or more of the following:

  • Comprehensive evidence of achievement
  • Quality of service
  • Significant support (financial or benefit-in-kind).

Candidates for the award must be nominated by a member of an affiliated society and be approved by either a general meeting, an executive meeting or a specially convened subcommittee. The presiding President and Secretary (or other appropriate office bearer) must also sign the nomination.

The deadline for nominations is 22 September 2023.

Nominations should be emailed to Successful applicants will be notified before the Conference so that arrangements can be made for their presentation.

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2023 RAHS Conference bookings now open – early bird tickets available until 15 September

2023 RAHS Conference bookings now open – early bird tickets available until 15 September

2023 RAHS Conference – The Way Ahead: Local and Community Histories for our Future

Bookings have now opened for the 2023 RAHS Conference in Wagga Wagga, with early-bird prices available until 15 September. The conference will be held on 21–22 October at Wagga RSL Club.

The City of Wagga Wagga is the perfect location to explore the conference theme – The Way Ahead: Local and Community Histories for our Future. Today the people who call Wagga Wagga home reflect its rich and diverse history. The commitment to remembering and honouring this history, both now and for future generations, can be seen with the launch of the redeveloped Museum of the Riverina. The museum is dedicated to telling stories about the people and events that helped shape the City of Wagga Wagga and the Riverina Region.

‘Participants in a conference themed The Way Ahead come with hopes of pondering the ways ahead for their work and that of their historical societies’, writes Adjunct Associate Professor Bruce Pennay OAM, who will present the Lesley Muir keynote address. Professor Pennay will use his address to showcase how Albury-Wodonga historical societies are meeting the challenge of delivering local and community histories for the future.

The Conference program features sessions on using oral histories in your research and the digitisation of community archives. There will also be sessions showcasing local stories from the Riverina and a panel discussion of museum curators and experts.

As always, the Conference will feature opportunities to network with RAHS members and friends, including during the Welcome Reception hosted by the Wagga Wagga and District Historical Society on Friday, 20 October, at the Historic Council Chambers. Delegates will also be able to experience a behind-the-scenes tour of the redeveloped Museum of the Riverina on Saturday afternoon.

Check out the 2023 RAHS Conference website to explore the program and all that Wagga Wagga has to offer, including its museums, galleries and gardens.

We look forward to seeing you at the Conference!

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JRAHS Vol 109 Pt. 1 June 2023 – Editorial

JRAHS Vol 109 Pt. 1 June 2023 – Editorial

Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society

Vol 109 Pt 1 June 2023


A watercolour painting of a Banksian cockatoo which is printed onto the white cover of the RAHS journalAs the RAHS embarks on a new chapter in the history of its Journal, I want to express our appreciation for the incredible work and dedication of the previous editorial team. Adjunct Associate Professor Carol Liston AO edited the Journal from mid-2002 to 2022. Under Carol Liston’s guidance, the Journal has flourished, offering an important platform for historical research and scholarly discourse. For more than 10 years, Joy Hughes has proofread the articles, corrected historical inaccuracies, spent hours amending hundreds of reference notes and followed up elusive citations at the Mitchell Library and the NSW State Archives. Joy Hughes’ commitment and precision have left an indelible mark on the Journal, and we recognise her invaluable role in ensuring the excellence of its content. We also extend our utmost gratitude to Bruce Pollock, our Production Editor, who will be continuing in this role, for his meticulous attention to detail. We acknowledge and thank Donna Newton for her ongoing assistance in the production of the Journal over many years, in particular in locating suitable images to accompany the articles and in managing the despatch and return of the books for the reviews.

The production of this issue of the Journal would not have been possible without the support of the History House team. On behalf of the RAHS Council, I want to record my thanks to Suzanne Holohan (RAHS General Manager), Phillip Jaworski (RAHS Digital Media) and Donna Newton (RAHS Librarian). In addition, the assistance of Janette Pelosi, who has just joined the incoming editorial team as the proofreader, and Bruce Pollock is noted with thanks.

There are four refereed articles and nine book reviews in this issue of the Journal. Terry Kass discusses the War Service Home scheme operating after World War I, arguing that little is known or understood about its history, unlike that of the various soldier settlement schemes. These houses are disappearing owing to redevelopment pressures but those that remain have a direct association with the Anzacs and the current owners or occupiers often have no inkling that they are ‘directly communing with an Anzac every day they wake at dawn’.

Mark St Leon’s article ‘Beaumont & Waller’s Botanical & Zoological Gardens, at the Sir Joseph Banks Hotel, Botany Bay 1848-61’ outlines its origins as one of Sydney’s favourite outlets for public leisure and recreation and development until 1861. Beaumont & Waller’s legacies extend beyond their Botany venture. They include the foundation of the travelling shows ‘that would keep regional Australia amused until well into the 20th century’, the development of other pleasure resorts in Sydney and regional New South Wales and the eventual establishment of Taronga Park Zoo.

In ‘Ingleside Powder Works: “a curious colonial enterprise”’, Keith Amos discusses the history of the Powder Works. This was the creation of the ‘mysterious entrepreneur’ Carl von Bieren. Amos examines how this unique powder works came into being in the 1880s, only to collapse in controversy. Instead of manufacturing gunpowder for the first time in New South Wales, Von Bieren led investors deeply into debt without ever beginning production.

The Irish-born surgeon John White was one of the key figures of the First Fleet and also an indefatigable collector of Australian natural history, chiefly on behalf of one of his greatest supporters, the Londoner Thomas Wilson Esq. As a result, Wilson was the driving force behind the publication of three of the most important early Australian books, all based on White’s collections. Matthew Fishburn’s article ‘Thomas Wilson Esq and the natural history collections of First Fleet Surgeon John White’ documents this close association.

Christine Yeats FRAHS

Editor RAHS Journal June 2023

RAHS members can download and read articles published in the Journal by logging into their online members’ account. Click here to log in to your member account.


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Coronation Ceremonial Tree Planting at NSW Government House

Coronation Ceremonial Tree Planting at NSW Government House

On Saturday 6 May, RAHS President Iain Stuart attended a ceremonial tree planting at Government House to celebrate the coronation of Their Majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla.

The event began with a smoking ceremony by the Koomurri Dancers and included the National Anthem and Royal Anthem played by the Australian Army Band. Short addresses were delivered by His Excellency the Honourable Andrew Bell, Lieutenant-Governor of New South Wales, and Lottie Dalziel, NSW Young Australian of the Year.

The melaleuca tree sapling planted during the ceremony was grown from a cutting of the tree planted at Government House by Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II during her 1954 visit to Australia. This tree continues to stand tall by the Government House driveway.

The RAHS has a long association with the monarchy, having been granted the title ‘Royal’ in 1918. Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC KC, Governor of New South Wales, and Mr Dennis Wilson are joint patrons of the Society. In 2020, the RAHS published Playing Their Part: Vice-Regal Consorts of New South Wales, 1788–2019, which tells the stories of the wives, daughters, sisters and husbands of the Governors of New South Wales.

Find out more about the ceremony at the Governor of NSW’s website.

Published online 18 May 2023

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Vale Queen Elizabeth II (1926-2022)

Vale Queen Elizabeth II (1926-2022)

Sepia photograph of Queen Elizabeth II, the 27-year-old Queen, and her husband, Prince PhilipThe RAHS would like to offer condolences to those close to Queen Elizabeth II who are experiencing a profound personal loss at her death. As the longest-reigning monarch in British history, the late Queen will be remembered for her enormous dedication to the role she performed for more than seventy years.

To commemorate her passing, the RAHS has shared images and articles of the 1954 Royal Tour of Queen Elizabeth II, when the 27-year-old Queen and her husband, Prince Philip, spent eight weeks touring Australia.

The State Library of NSW also has resources on its website about the royal visit when ‘ the crowds were tumultuous, the press was effusive in its praise and every street the royals paraded along was festooned with decorations’.

The RAHS Library holds a copy of the Official Souvenir Program for the 1954 visit of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

Here is a downloadable digitised version of the Official Souvenir Programme: The Royal Visit to New South Wales, 3 February – 18 March 1954. Printed by Government Printer Sydney [RAHS Collection].

The RAHS also holds a collection of 78 photographs taken of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip on 3 February 1954, on what was the first day of their 58-day tour of Australia. A selection of these photographs has been compiled below.

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Playing Their Part: Official Book Launch at Government House

Playing Their Part: Official Book Launch at Government House

Playing Their Part: Official Book Launch at Government House

Mr Denis (consort to Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC, Governor of NSW) alongside Mrs Linda Hurley (consort to His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd) Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia as they both officially launch the book at Government House, Sydney on Wednesday 23 February 2022.


Playing Their Part: Vice-Regal Consorts of NSW, 1788-2019 (published 2020) was officially launched at Government House, Sydney on Wednesday 23 February 2022.

The book was launched by Mr Dennis Wilson (consort to Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC, Governor of NSW) alongside Mrs Linda Hurley (consort to His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC [Retd], Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia).

In attendance were some of the 22 authors who contributed biographical profiles for the vice-regal women and one man that comprise the book, and the volunteer editors of the book, RAHS President Carol Liston AO, Joy Hughes and Christine Wright.

Amongst the luminaries in attendance were the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley, the Honourable TF Bathurst AC, Chief Justice and Lieutenant-Governor of NSW, Lady Suzanne Martin, widow of Sir David Martin, 34th Governor of NSW, and the State Library of NSW’s Dr John Vallance.

The audience (which was restricted due to COVID protocols) were treated to two interesting speeches, followed by afternoon tea. Mr Wilson discussed his admiration for Eliza Kent (consort to Governor John Hunter) and Mrs Hurley outlined how her curiosity inspired her to approach the RAHS to find out more about past vice-regal women. She also spoke in admiration of her favourite consort, Anna Josepha King (wife of the third Governor of NSW, Philip Gidley King).

To close the proceedings, Mrs Hurley treated the audience to a musical rendition of her own making, which celebrated the lives of the past consorts.

Playing Their Part is available from the RAHS shop as a hardcopy book and digital e-book. You can find out more about the book by visiting our dedicated website which features stories about the project, published articles and recorded lectures.

Coloured photo of the book cover of “Playing Their Part” Vice-Regal consorts of New South Wales 1788 - 2019. Photo containers photos of all the Consorts both men and women.




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